Later in that same hot summer, Morris Jr. was carrying a pail of water
to the hands.
He had to take a two gallon bucket, pump it a half mile away and bring
it to the hands. Morris Jr. would go around the fields letting each
hand drink so that the working wouldn't have to stop. It was Miss Perri
Lee's turn to drink. She put down her tool to take the gourd to get
a drink. Morris Sr. picks up her tool and continues to work. Miss Perri
Lee takes the gourd and takes some good sips. She uses the water to
rinse as well. When she was done, Morris Sr. took the gourd and took
a long sip. The act of his father using the same gourd aroused an emotion
in Morris Jr. He wouldn't understand the true meaning of the simple
"There is something about this simple scene, something that it says
about my father, that even now in the memory brings tears to my eyes.
The field hands, all of them black, never thought twice about drinking
one after another from the dipper until the bucket was empty. And white
folks had no qualms about sharing the same bottle of Coca-Cola or something
stronger. But how many white men in Montgomery County, in the South,
in the entire nation for that matter, would have been color-blind enough
to do what my daddy did in 1948 - when the Jim Crow laws were at their
peak, when there were separate water fountains for white and "colored"?
His father was the influence of his life. Had Morris Jr. had his way,
he probably would have ended up a preacher or a lawyer. He was a devout
Baptist and his family even helped build the Pike Road Baptist Church.
Had he chose not to be a preacher, he would have became a farmer. He
had a wonderful entrepreneur business running by the time he was in
his senior year at high school. But Morris pushed his son to be something
more than a farmer.